How Money Matters

The following is a summary of a new report from the Learning Policy Institute in the United States on school finance reform. It reviews reforms by four US states to undertake progressive school funding strategies in order to substantially improve learning opportunities for all students. It provides recommendations for federal and state policies to address funding inequalities that contribute to the cycle of poverty. It shows that money matters when it comes to improving schools and that how money is spent is critical.

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School Choice Increases Social Segregation and Inequity in Education

A new OECD report, Balancing School Choice and Equity, shows that school choice policies have increased social and academic segregation between schools which, in turn, reduced equity in education. Australia is a prime example of the impact of choice on social segregation. School choice has been at the centre of education policy for the last 20 or more years. Australia now has one of the most socially and academically segregated school systems in the OECD and has highly inequitable education outcomes.

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A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education

US Presidential contender, Senator Bernie Sanders, has released a far-reaching program to reform public education. Many of its policies resonate in the Australian context. The following is the Introduction to the plan together with an outline of its main policies.

His first principle is fundamental:

“Every human being has the fundamental right to a good education. On this 65th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education decision, we are committed to creating an education system that works for all people, not just the wealthy and powerful.”

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On the Definition of Equity in Education

The Gonski Institute for Education recently published a valuable paper on equity in education titled Improving Educational Equity in Australian Education. It discusses what is equity, why equity in education matters and makes recommendations for improving equity in education. However, its definition of equity in education is limited and imprecise. The paper should have adopted the equity definition of the original Gonski report because it offers a more effective guide for education policy and funding.

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The Vast Majority of Disadvantaged Schools are Public Schools

The following is a summary of a new Education Research paper published by Save Our Schools. It can be downloaded below.

Data drawn from the My School website show that school systems in Australia are highly segregated by socio-economic background both nationally and in each state, although the extent of the segregation varies between states.

Highly and medium disadvantaged schools are over-represented in public schools and under-represented in private schools. In contrast, highly and medium advantaged schools are under-represented in public schools and over-represented in private schools.

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The Futility of School Closings

This article is re-printed from the website of US blogger Jan Resseger. The title is amended as suggested by Diane Ravitch

In her profound and provocative book about the community impact of Chicago’s closure of 50 so-called “underutilized” public schools at the end of the 2013 school year, Eve Ewing considers the effect of school closures on the neighborhoods they once anchored.  Ewing’s book, Ghosts in the Schoolyard, is about Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood and a set of school closures in Chicago in which 88 percent of the affected students were African American, and 71 percent of the closed schools had majority-African American teachers. (Ghosts in the Schoolyard, p. 5)

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The Benefits of Socio-Economically and Racially Integrated Schools

A recent OECD report shows that Australia has one of the most socio-economically segregated school systems in the OECD and in the world. It also shows that Australia had the equal largest increase in social segregation in the OECD and the world since 2006.

A research brief recently published by The Century Foundation in the United States outlines the benefits of socio-economic and racial integration in schools (references are available in the original which can be downloaded below). Research shows that socio-economic and racial diversity in schools provides a range of academic, cognitive, social and economic benefits.

The following is a slightly edited version of the brief. An earlier more detailed paper is also available from the Foundation titled A Bold Agenda for School Integration.

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New School Facilities Matter for Student Achievement

A paper presented to the annual conference of the American Economic Association in January that examined the largest school construction program ever in the United States found strong evidence that it lead to improvements in test scores, attendance and student effort. It also found that the construction program increased neighbourhood house prices.

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Teacher Unions Benefit Schools and Students

Strong teacher unions are critical to improving equity in school funding according to a new study published in the academic journal Review of Economics and Statistics. They also play a major role in translating funding increases into increases in student achievement.

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Bonuses Increase Retention of High-Quality Teacher and Student Achievement in Disadvantaged Schools

One of the challenges to improving results in highly disadvantaged schools is recruiting and retaining high quality teachers. Disadvantaged schools often have high teacher turnover which impacts on student achievement. A new US study has found that selective retention bonuses for high quality teachers leads to increases in student achievement in high poverty schools.

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